Report: Foreign intel agencies warned Turkey of impending attack
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Report: Foreign intel agencies warned Turkey of impending attack

Obama offers security assistance to ally in wake of deadly assault, while spokesman points finger at Islamic State

Bullet impacts are pictured on a window at Ataturk airport's International airport on June 29, 2016, a day after a suicide bombing and gun attack targeted Istanbul's airport, killing at least 41people. (AFP/Ozan Kose)
Bullet impacts are pictured on a window at Ataturk airport's International airport on June 29, 2016, a day after a suicide bombing and gun attack targeted Istanbul's airport, killing at least 41people. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

Two foreign intelligence agencies gave Turkey prior warning about the threat of a terrorist attack ahead of Tuesday’s deadly assault on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, Israel’s Channel 10 television reported Wednesday.

The report didn’t indicate which intelligence agencies warned Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency, but it noted that the United States issued a travel advisory for Turkey in advance of the attack that left at least 41 dead.

Israel has been issuing strong warnings against travel to Turkey for months.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Wednesday that one of the attackers at the airport blew himself up outside, giving the other two the opportunity to get inside the building.

“When the terrorists couldn’t pass the regular security system, when they couldn’t pass the scanners, police and security controls, they returned and took out their weapons out of their suitcases and opened fire at random at the security check,” he said.

“One blew himself up outside and the other two took advantage of the panic created during the shoot out and got inside and blew themselves up.”

Relatives of suicide bombing victim Mohammad Eymen Demirci mourn on June 29, 2016 in Istanbul during his funeral a day after a terrorist attack targeted Istanbul's Ataturk airport, killing 41 people. (AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE)
Relatives of suicide bombing victim Mohammad Eymen Demirci mourn on June 29, 2016 in Istanbul during his funeral a day after a terrorist attack targeted Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, killing 41 people. (AFP PHOTO/OZAN KOSE)

President Barack Obama on Wednesday offered US security assistance to Turkey after the bombings, which were the latest in a string of attacks to rock the US ally.

Obama telephoned President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to express his deep condolences on behalf of the American people,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters traveling with the US leader to a summit in Ottawa.

“In the context of that call, he will offer any support that the Turks can benefit from as they conduct this investigation and take steps to further strengthen the security situation in their country.”

“Any information that we obtain that could be useful to the Turkish investigation, we will certainly share that information,” he added.

Earnest did not indicate whether Turkey had officially sought US assistance following the latest attack.

The United States earlier condemned as “heinous” Tuesday’s bombing and gun assault in Istanbul, and pledged steadfast support for its NATO ally.

The assault, which comes at the start of Turkey’s crucial tourist season, was the latest in a wave of attacks in Istanbul and the capital Ankara blamed it on Islamic State (IS) jihadists or Kurdish rebels.

Earnest, like Turkey, pointed the finger of blame at IS for the newest atrocity.

“We’ve made important progress in Iraq and in Syria against ISIL,” he said using an alternate acronym for the group.

“But we continue to be concerned by the ability that ISIL has to carry out these kind of terrorist attacks, not just in Iraq and Syria but in other places.”

Barack Obama and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet at a summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales on September 5, 2014. (photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP)
Barack Obama and Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet at a summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales on September 5, 2014. (photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP)

Earnest said Obama would have a chance to meet with Erdogan “in some setting” when he travels to Warsaw for the upcoming NATO summit on July 8-9.

He said the attacks were certain to be raised Wednesday in Ottawa, where Obama joins Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for a so-called “Three Amigos” summit.

“This is something that will certainly be on the minds of all three North American leaders,” Earnest said.

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